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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Epiphyllic communities on leaves at tropical forests: causes and consequences for leaf functioning at different scales

PI:  Bruno Rosado (Centro de Gestão de Pesquisa, Desenvolvimento e Inovação – CGPDI)
U.S. Partner: Scott Saleska (University of Arizona)
Project Dates: August 2013 to May 2016
This project focuses on improving our knowledge of the basic ecology of forests so we can better understand the response of plant species based on their interaction with epiphylls, identify their role in the carbon cycle in different scales, and anticipate the effects of climate change and different forest management practices on forests and their functioning in ecosystems. This study will provide several intellectual gains and broader impacts to scientists, environmental planners, and students. It should also provide a missing link in forest carbon models with the potential for better understanding atmosphere-vegetation relationships by examining the influence of leaf traits on epiphyllous communities and leaf functioning. Defining the spatial patterns of the influence of epiphyllous communities on leaf functioning among species and sites may be important to assess the overall carbon balance at a particular site. With this clearer understanding, more meaningful models of forest carbon processes can be formulated that incorporate leaf surface variables and epiphyllous communities.
Dr. Rosado and his team expect to develop basic science investigations with relevant results for development goals and challenges. This goal will be reached by stimulating and supporting the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation and maintaining and modernizing the shared research and education infrastructure, including facilities and science and technology centers. A major and broad impact of this proposed study to the public is that it will provide the basis for new information that will enhance our understanding of carbon fluxes. This is especially important given that Brazil has recently approved a new Forest Code that will result in escalating deforestation, increasing the urgency to demonstrate the value and functioning of species. Considering the new paradigm of the green economy that now surrounds this discussion, these researchers expect to produce results on biodiversity research combining floristic, metagenomic, and functional ecology to screen forest leaves. They anticipate strengthening partnerships with science centers and similar institutions to develop exhibits in science and involve the public in research and education activities. Data will be made available in a timely manner by means of databases and digital libraries, and research and education results will be presented in formats useful to policy-makers and broader audiences.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the first quarter of 2015, PI Bruno Rosado and co-PI Rafael Oliveira met with Prof. Marcio Lambais (from University of São Paulo) at UNICAMP to discuss collaboration and assistance with metagenomic analysis due to his expertise in the field. Following the meeting, arrangements were made at all facilities to start metagenomic analysis at the Local University in Amazon (UFOPA). Additionally, analysis of the leaf water repellency was completed and a first draft of a paper was prepared to report these first results while other analyses were performed.

In the field, dendrometers were built with springs and bands purchased by students from the local university in the Amazon (UFOPA). Installation was performed by students with assistance from local researchers. Two students from UFOPA will monitor monthly stem increment growth from the dendrometer bands in an attempt to cover several distinct dry and wet seasons, and local climatic variability.

In the next period, the team will purchase the chemicals necessary for metagenomic analysis as well as the Terminator Cycle Sequencing Kit. The team will also conduct field work in July and August to identify leaf trait survey procedures and collect leaves for microbial metagenomic analysis. Training will be provided on plant ecophysiology to undergraduate students from UFOPA.

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